A patchwork of countries, counties and neighbourhoods, Europe has as many cultures as May Poles have streamers. This is a continent, after all, that teems with carnivals, festivals and fairs as soon as the weather warms up. To celebrate Europe’s reputation for fun, we’ve rounded up six of the best spring events.
Óbidos International Chocolate Festival, Portugal
10 March – 2 April 2017
Known mostly for its fame among book-lovers and its medieval fair, Óbidos (situated north of Lisbon) is also cocoa-crazy. Wander around culinary classes or stalls laden with chocolate animals, sculptures, macarons and workshop creations, before savouring delicacies from every latitude and longitude. Wherever it originates and whatever the concept, you’ll certainly want more!
St Patrick’s Festival, Dublin, Ireland
16 – 19 March 2017
First taking place in 1995, but with roots that stretch almost 1,500 years, St Patrick’s Day honours the achievements of the Irish both at home and abroad. The good news for visitors is that the celebrations usually involve plenty of Guinness, Irish whiskey, traditional music and high spirits, especially in big cities like Dublin. Visit for guaranteed laughs, top-quality conversation and lots of dancing.
Lucerne Festival, Switzerland
1– 9 April 2017
Some of the world’s greatest orchestras, conductors and solo musicians head to Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne in the springtime for the Lucerne Festival. Established in 1988, the musical extravaganza, which takes place two weeks before Easter, attracts more than 110,00 annually. A special focus is given to sacred music, leaving enraptured listeners feeling blissful and serene after a fortnight of culture.
Cannes Film Festival, France
17 – 28 May 2017
Possibly the most famous town in cinematographic history outside of America, Cannes Film Festival is all about big stars, even bigger business deals, miles of red carpet, and generous servings of glamour. Although tickets to sweep up the steps of the Palais des Festivals aren’t available to the public each year, spectators can enjoy the town’s carnivalesque atmosphere.
Chelsea Flower Show, London, UK
23 –27 May 2017
The pinnacle of the horticultural calendar, London’s Chelsea Flower Show, is back this spring. Armed with nine show gardens, five fresh gardens, nine artisan gardens and more than 100 floral displays, highlights, include The British Ecological Society’s ‘Delight in the Dark’ plot, which showcases shade-tolerant plants. The organisation’s ‘Greening Grey Britain’ campaign, urges the nation to transform paved areas into vibrant and beautiful urban spaces.
Festa della Sensa, Venice, Italy
28 May 2017
An ancient tradition that honours the relationship between Venice and the sea (upon which the city-state historically projected its power), the Festa della Sensa is an incredible sight to behold. Festooning the rippled lagoon with bright boats and colourful uniforms, keep an eye out for the Doge’s boat – the 20-man Bucintoro – not that it’s easy to miss! Always finishing with Holy Mass at the Church of S. Nicolo (at the nearby Lido), this annual spectacle is one of Venice’s most exuberant.